Saturday, March 21, 2009

Islamic Examiner needs his head examined, part 1

In his now 7-part series criticizing atheism, Yusuf Khan's arguments still come up far short, not just horribly wrong, but also lacking a grounding in even the basics of common sense, logic, and the fine art of knowing what you're talking about.

In part 1, he wrangles with understanding even the most basic definitions of atheism in an incredibly condescending and patronizing way (which by the way, is my job).

He starts out with calling atheism a "belief system" and can't figure out why atheists would object to that (or at least, feigns that he can't). Looks like someone needs to take Atheism 101.
Have it your way. Because if that's the case then I don't know why Atheist propaganda is always found in the Religion section of most publications, including this one.
That was, by the way, a classy reference to the website's Atheism examiner.

Okay, so he doesn't understand why atheist books could possibly be categorized in the religion section of a bookstore. I have a wild idea about that: maybe because they're about religion. It's not hard to figure out.

Next, he makes the brilliant assertion that atheists (people who don't believe in a god) believe in a god, it's just that they oppose God's authority. The whole argument is just pure, unadulterated genius. (And possibly a copyright violation. Last time I checked, Dinesh D'Souza had a lifetime patent on that incredibly ridiculous claim)

In part 2, he kicks it up a notch. The stupidity, that is.

He repeats the bookstore claim and suggests that all atheist books ought to go in the philosophy section. My local Barnes and Noble does just that - the philosophy section is a single bookshelf, waist-high at its height and consists almost entirely of Aristotle, Plato, and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer and philosophy"-type books with a small smattering of old and unpopular atheistic books. Plus, it's at the very back of the store. Meanwhile, there's a bewildering array of religion, Christianity, Christian fiction, and Bible bookshelves. These sections combined make up a large chunk of the store. They added a small display near it with some of the Four Horsemen books (Dawkins, Dennet, Harris, and Hitches) and this guy practically has a heart attack. Heaven forbid such aggression!

Next, he says Buddha mentions God so Buddhism must be theistic, not atheistic. Again, genius logic. And once again, he's wrong. Buddhism itself is by and large about eliminating suffering and achieving enlightenment and not about worship of a supreme creator.

When this topic comes up, many buddhists respond with the arrow parable:
A man lies dying with a poisoned arrow in his side, but rather than removing the arrow immediately before he dies, he wants to know who shot the arrow, whether the person was tall or short, where they are from, what kind of bow was used, the kind of string used for the bow etc.

The arrow represents our present state of suffering, and while we trouble ourselves with endless questions about this and that, our life slips away and we get no nearer to solving the problem of our suffering.
The moral of the story: wrangling about whether or not a god exists is pointless and merely distracts from the more pressing concern of human suffering. Once again, a quick google could have saved Yusuf much embarrassment.

In part 3, he explores common atheist arguments against traditional religion and almost has a salient point. Almost.

First, he complains that atheists always attack Christianity and occasionally, Islam. There are pretty good reasons for this: Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions in the world, atheists tend to live in countries that are predominately Christian, Christianity and Islam tend to be politically mobilized much more than other religions - attempting to force their views on society at large. And obviously, the specter of Islamic terrorism certainly doesn't help the public image of Islam one bit. Plus, I do have this nagging impression that Muslims and Christians as a whole (especially the more conservative-mined believers) really are more aggressive and ill-mannered than their fellow coreligionists. Maybe I'm just leading a sheltered life, but I simply don't see the same sort of pushy and domineering behavior from Jainists, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, or Deists.

Next, he makes the strange claim that "ancient mythologies and pagan creeds are never attacked by Atheists". Once again, the explanation is fairly obvious: there's really no point in beating a dead religion.

Myth: Established religion is cruel and oppressive.

Fact: The above conclusion is derived from a singular bitter experience: medieval Europe. Christian scandals continued well beyond medieval times (the European Wars of Religion, the Salem Witch trials, etc) extending to present day foibles and missteps like creationism, prop 8, and "sinful" birth control. Plus, I would be remiss to talk about cruel and oppressive religion without including present day Islamic theocracies.
The remarkable progress in science and technology that was sparked in Asia, North Africa, and Eastern Europe was a direct product of Islam, not a pre-Islamic phenomenon.

This historical testimony serves as clear-cut evidence that the presence of monotheism in a society in no way hinders scientific progress. In fact the above example taken from Muslim history proves that in fact it fosters education and encourages development.
This lovely delusion of a universally pro-science Islam is falsified in only two words: Harun Yahya. Turkey is the only country on the list that's actually worse than the United States with regard to accepting evolution. Islamic beliefs can and do spread pseudoscientific beliefs.

Part 4, more confusion about the definition of atheist. Particularly, he's fond of using the dictionary definition of atheism, where it is as synonymous with wickedness, to imply that this is somehow actually true and gets indignant that people pointed out the gaping flaw in that logic.

Then he just flies off to cuckoo land:
Contrary to the dictionary definition, below is a series of quotes made by Atheists that don't deny, rather affirm the existence of God.
He really seems to think that Lucretius quoting Epicirus's famous riddle that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the idea of a benevolent deity somehow indicates theistic belief. He quotes a satirist (a satirist!) saying "thank God I'm an atheist" as proof positive that he believes in God. Holy smokes, this guy is thick! If I said "By Jove, I've got an idea!", he'd think that I worship Jupiter.

And he just goes on and on. I'll cover part 5, 6, and 7 later. Preferably after I stop laughing and banging my head against the wall from the sheer idiocy of it.

They'll really let anyone be an examiner these days, don't they? Apparently, they do. (They changed it from anti-atheist examiner to creationism examiner, but his first choice certainly says a lot about his mentality.)

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